You can choose to earn money from a variety of side hustles, but there’s only so much you can make with some of them. After all, if you deliver for Grubhub, you’re dependent on a certain number of food orders to make more than minimum wage.
What if you could create your own side hustle, and earn more than $15,000 in extra cash?
If you’ve listened to Chris Guillebeau’s “Side Hustle School” podcast, you know that’s possible. Many of the show’s interviewees successfully turned their side gigs into money-making machines. Here are four stories from various episodes that might inspire you to pursue your big idea.
1. ‘Single mom makes $15,000 from astrology calendar’
Every year, Julie Wilder would design a new astrology calendar. One year, she was curious about how it would fare on Etsy, an online marketplace for individuals to sell crafts.
The response was immediate. Within a few months, Julie made $5,000 by selling calendars, with each costing only $1 to manufacture.
Since the calendar was already designed, Julie didn’t have to dedicate any time to the product, only to sell it. She marketed it by creating video tutorials and blog posts. Then she shared that content with Facebook groups related to astrology.
“I can’t believe a piece of art I created can actually pay my mortgage,” Guillebeau quotes Julie as saying in the podcast. You can check out Julie’s astrology calendars on her website, Spiral Spectrum.
Guillebeau says in the podcast that part of Julie’s success was due to serving a passionate niche audience. In other words, she was sharing her interest in astrology with people who had the same interest. It’s proof that you can turn a hobby into a side hustle. Listen to the episode.
2. ‘College student earns $20,000 a month cleaning houses’
You don’t have to come up with a crazy new idea to make five figures. You don’t even need to be a college graduate to do it.
This episode features a Washington, D.C., student named Christopher Schwab. During his senior year of college in 2016, he started a cleaning service called Think Maids.
Christopher was aware that cleaning companies have a reputation for being unreliable and hiding extra costs. When performing market research, he also discovered that most cleaning services aren’t technologically savvy.
So Christopher built a website that enhanced communication with customers, allowing them to easily book services online. He also sought out the best home cleaners, testing applicants from Craigslist by having them clean his own home.
When the podcast was produced, Christopher had 12 employees and was becoming an expert on how to launch a business.
In the podcast, Guillebeau applauds Christopher for disrupting an old industry. He challenges listeners to think about industries or services that will always be in demand but haven’t caught up with the 21st century. Listen to the episode.
3. ‘Young analyst turns college debt into $100K profit’
Christian Zimmerman, a marketing analyst at a tech startup, was struggling to repay student loan debt. He had an idea for an app that would solve his personal problem: Round up the spare change from his purchases and apply it to his debt. So if he bought a coffee for $3.50, for example, 50 cents would be applied to his debt.
The system would force Christian to make extra payments, which would shorten his repayment term, as our prepayment calculator can confirm.
The idea turned into a mobile app called Qoins. Christian and his company’s co-founder spent four months designing and coding the website tool before it could be beta-tested. To find customers, they emailed personal finance bloggers and asked them to spread the word about the app if they were impressed.
Qoins became one of our recommended financial mobile apps. It charges customers $1.99 a month.
Building an app is all the rage. It’s also a lot of work. Guillebeau cautions his listeners to think first about their idea for a side hustle, and then consider the best medium for it. Then they can avoid at least one of many common side hustle mistakes.
If you want to go with an app but don’t have the coding skills, you could hire another side hustler to help. Listen to the episode.
4. ‘Accountant earns $233,751 reselling items he buys at Walmart’
Ryan Grant, a Minneapolis-based accountant, is proof that a successful side hustle doesn’t require creating a new product. It could be about reselling products that already exist.
Ryan learned this method when trying to sell used textbooks to his college bookstore. It offered him far less money than he thought was fair. So Ryan started selling his books on Amazon. Then he started selling his friends’ books on the retail site. Ultimately, he found ways to buy and resell books from all students on campus.
Years later, Ryan joined the Fulfilled by Amazon program, which allows people to use the e-commerce website to sell products. Spending 10 hours a week, Ryan made $1,000 per month.
Then he doubled his efforts, learning to buy online and off from big-box stores and wholesalers. In 21 months of reselling everything from toiletries to electronics, he made more than $200,000 and crossed the million-dollar mark in sales when this podcast episode was recorded.
Ryan ended up quitting his full-time job because his Amazon side hustle earned him a huge annual salary. Guillebeau reminds listeners, however, that quitting their jobs shouldn’t be the end goal of starting a side hustle.
Instead, match your skills to a project you’re passionate about. Take that project as far as it can go, whether it leads to your main hustle or not. Listen to the episode.
Start your side hustle today
Although side hustles can be rewarding, 85% of people with side gigs earn less than $500 per month from their extra work, according to a June 2017 analysis by Earnest, a lending startup.
Don’t just focus on a five-figure payout. The first step toward developing your side hustle should be brainstorming. On this website, Guillebeau says it’s important to invest time and that you could dedicate as little as 20 minutes per day to developing your idea.
Once you have an idea worth pursuing, put it into action. You could start by developing a step-by-step action plan to work on making your idea a reality. For example, Julie figured out that connecting with star-watchers online helped sell astrology calendars.
Ready to put your idea to the test? Consider our tips for making $15,000 off your side hustle.
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